Mary Jane Jacob - "Dewey for Artists" - Dan Peterman & Bill Ayers

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Mary Jane Jacob, Dan Peterman, Bill Ayers

“This book is a welcome reintroduction of John Dewey’s progressive ideas in relation to the work of contemporary artists trying to escape the ‘elitist’ reputation of the commercial art world. Nobody is better qualified than Mary Jane Jacob to craft such an intriguing fusion of Dewey’s democratic philosophy and the work of artists devoted to social interaction and social change—all the more pertinent in these dark times.”Lucy R. Lippard

Mary Jane Jacob will discuss her new book, Dewey for Artists, with Dan Peterman and Bill Ayers. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About Dewey for Artists: John Dewey is known as a pragmatic philosopher and progressive architect of American educational reform, but some of his most important contributions came in his thinking about art.

Dewey argued that there is strong social value to be found in art, and it is artists who often most challenge our preconceived notions. Dewey for Artists shows us how Dewey advocated for an “art of democracy.” Identifying the audience as co-creator of a work of art by virtue of their experience, he made space for public participation. Moreover, he believed that societies only become—and remain—truly democratic if its citizens embrace democracy itself as a creative act, and in this he advocated for the social participation of artists.

Throughout the book, Mary Jane Jacob draws on the experiences of contemporary artists who have modeled Dewey’s principles within their practices. We see how their work springs from deeply held values. We see, too, how carefully considered curatorial practice can address the manifold ways in which aesthetic experience happens and, thus, enable viewers to find greater meaning and purpose. And it is this potential of art for self and social realization, Jacob helps us understand, that further ensures Dewey’s legacy—and the culture we live in.

About the Mary Jane Jacob: Mary Jane Jacob is a curator and writer who pioneered public, site-specific, and socially engaged art as a shared practice and discourse with the landmark programs “Places with a Past” and “Places with a Future,” Charleston, South Carolina; “Culture in Action,” Chicago; and “Conversations at the Castle,” Atlanta. Previously, as chief curator of the Museums of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Los Angeles, she staged some of the first US exhibitions of some of America’s and Europe’s leading avant-garde artists, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jannis Kounellis, and Gordon Matta-Clark. She has probed creative practioners’ relationship to audiences and society in the co-edited volumes Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, Learning Mind: Experience into Art, Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society, The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists, and the Chicago Social Practice History Series. Her most recent book is book Dewey for Artists published by the University of Chicago Press in Fall 2018. Jacob holds the position of Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the Director of the Curatorial Studies Program and Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice.

About Dan Peterman: Since the mid-1980s Dan Peterman has combined innovative strategies of local engagement and activism with national and international art projects, exhibitions and installations. Peterman explores intersections of art and ecology, frequently focusing on networks of recycled, or discarded materials that function interchangeably as stockpiles, sculpture, functional objects, and critiques of environmental oversight and neglect. In the early 1990's Peterman developed a building and cultural site located in a contested urban boundary between the University of Chicago and Woodlawn neighborhood to the south. This project, known simply as the building, fostered diverse cultural, educational, and small business initiatives—becoming an influential model of cultural activism and urban placemaking. In 2003 Peterman co-founded the Experimental Station, a 501c-3 non profit organization that continues to provide independent cultural programming and infrastructure for local enterprises at that site. 

Peterman is an Associate Professor in the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  His works have been exhibited at Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, Germany, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Venice Biennial, Italy; Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven, NL, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel Switzerland.

About Bill Ayers: Bill Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired) has written extensively about social justice, democracy, and education, and teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise. His books include A Kind and Just Parent; Teaching toward Freedom; Fugitive Days: A Memoir; Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident; To Teach: The Journey, in Comics; and Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637